Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Duck Dynasty Worldview

The national debate sparked by the Duck Dynasty controversy is a debate about worldviews. A worldview is a system of beliefs is that are purported to be 1) internally consistent and 2) claim to reflect the state of affairs as they actually are. In other words, a worldview has the duty to avoid contradiction within its system as well as to provide for a rational justification for its most basic beliefs. If a worldview cannot achieve both, internal consistency and provide rational justification for its basic beliefs, then it is considered weak and should be abandoned for a more coherent system.

So Phil Robertson made the statement that homosexuality is a sin. So he used bestiality in the same sentence in which he used homosexuality. He also included a variety of other sinful behaviors in that list. What Phil Robertson was doing was paraphrasing 1 Cor. 6:9: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Phil Robertson admitted to being guilty of living a lifestyle at one point in his life that placed him squarely on this list. There are a lot of questions surrounding this text. First, what do these adjectives mean? Second, is it actually true? Finally, can a person embrace the Christian worldview without embracing the truthfulness of this text? Whatever your answers are to these questions, one thing is certain: how you answer these questions is predominantly driven by your worldview.

A Christian is a person that fully embraces the Christian worldview. The Christian worldview is entirely contained and taught only in the Christian scriptures. Therefore, a Christian is one that fully embraces the Christian scriptures en toto.

A Christian is a person that fully embraces the Christian worldview. Christian theism is both internally consistent, and it provides rational justification for its basic beliefs. In fact, Christian theism is the only internally consistent worldview, not to mention the only worldview that provides rational justification for its basic beliefs. To be a Christian is to embrace the revelation of God in full. “Revelation is divine self-presentation; its content is identical with God. To speak of revelation is simply to point to the divine self-utterance: I am who I am.” [Webster, Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch, 14]

It is entirely incongruent for the professed subscriber of the Christian religion to reject in piecemeal fashion, the very revelation of God that is responsible for its existence. Christian theism, like any worldview, operates as system. The moment you begin to remove components from Christian theism, you no longer have Christian theism. What you have is a worldview that may imitate, to a large measure, Christian theism but it is not Christian theism. Parallels with another worldview, do not equal monotony. Moreover, there can be no differences with Christian theism that are not, in and of themselves, profound. This is owing to the extraordinary unity that circumscribes and shapes Christian theism. It is this point of view that most Christians, be they public figures, apologists, and even pastors, fail to make clear to the outside world and especially to American culture. Christianity is either radically embraced from end to end or not at all. No man can serve two masters, Jesus said. We either fully embrace the Christian worldview or we fully embrace a non-Christian worldview regardless of the label we give to it. 

The Christian worldview is entirely contained and taught only in the Christian scriptures. There are no sources outside of Holy Scripture that inform the Christian worldview. Some may claim that tradition is a source for the Christian worldview. However, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes because their traditions sought to displace God’s word, “thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.” (Mk. 7:13) Jesus Himself claimed that word of God was the truth. (Jn. 17:17) Only the sacred writings, says Paul, are able to give one wisdom leading to salvation. (2 Tim. 3:15) Neither the Jews nor the ancient church ever placed other works on par with the sacred writings. The sacred writings have been identified as the manner by which God has communicated His divine self-disclosure to the Christian community. This disclosure imposes itself upon the Christian community. It is not for the community to change the disclosure but for the divine disclosure to transform, shape, and inform the community of what it means to truly know God and to truly acknowledge Christ as Lord. This is the essence of what it means to be a Christian. And it is precisely this that American culture rejects in preference for a worldview that is so loosely connected with its founders that it is hardly recognizable. We must not kid ourselves that American pop-culture actually understands Christian theism. Clearly it does not.

Christians are those that hear and do God’s word. Jesus said “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. (Matt. 7:21) Jesus was serious when He spoke these words. For some reason, many professing Christians seem entirely oblivious to this remark. Jesus also said clearly, “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (Jn. 8:47) People who claim to be a Christian but reject God’s word are simply deceiving themselves. Now, notice that Jesus uses God’s word en toto, as a unit. There is no such thing as rejecting some of God’s word and rejecting other parts of God’s word. You either accept God’s word in its entirety or you reject it. 1 Jn. 2:4 states: “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” There are a lot of people, dare I say the overwhelming majority of people that profess to subscribe to Christian theism who are in reality liars. They reject the teachings of the Christian worldview. 

I have said that a Christian is a person that fully embraces the Christian worldview. A Christian is a person that has surrendered their intellectual autonomy to the knowledge and wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather than question the teachings in the Christian worldview, they allow the Christian worldview to question they’re understand of things. The manner in which Christians know and embrace Christian theism is by knowing and embracing the Christ of Scripture and by diligently seeking transformation by the Holy Scripture. The Scripture itself is the only source for informing the Christian worldview. Because Scripture is God’s self-presentation for His Church, there is no other source upon which Christian theism draws to inform its community of its beliefs and practices. A Christian then is one that embraces fully and without hesitation this revelation of God in the Word of God.

Christian theism, as a system can only be accepted at face value or rejected at face value. The Christian worldview, like any other worldview stands or falls as a unit. If you wish to call yourself a Christian, then you should have an undying and unapologetic devotion to the teachings of the Jesus Christ and His apostles. The writings of these men must serve to inform your thinking on the current state of affairs that have obtained in the world. Christian theism is the expression of beliefs and teachings as promulgated in the writings of the prophets, apostles, and their close associates as God directed and inspired. Rejection of these writings in any way shape or form is a rejection of God’s revelation and as such an outright rejection of God.

What are the implications of all this on the Duck Dynasty controversy? I asked at the very beginning if 1 Cor. 6:9 is true. I also asked what it means. How does the Christian answer this question? Since Christians believe the writings of Paul to be the inspired word and revelation of God Himself, then Christians believe that 1 Cor. 6:9 is true. In addition, there is no ambiguity in the language of the text in question. The meanings of the words are very straightforward. This means that Christian theism most assuredly affirms that homosexuality is a sin. Since Christians are obligated to receive the teachings of God’s word without hesitation, then it follows that Christians in order to be Christians must subscribe to the view that homosexuality is a sin. A worldview that is incongruent should be abandoned. Any attempt to accept homosexuality within Christian theism is incongruent with Christian theism. Therefore, either the effort should be abandoned or the worldview should be rejected. In short, if you are a Christian, you reject the view that homosexual sex can be morally acceptable. Conversely, if you accept the proposition that homosexual sex is morally acceptable, you are not a Christian. Your other views that are similar to Christianity do not make you a Christian. What makes one Christian is the regeneration of their heart that results in a radical conversion and a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that produces unswerving devotion to all that Scripture teaches. The fruit of faith is proven by the inward working of the Holy Spirit and that work manifests itself to all. Faith is noticeable and, to an unbelieving world, profoundly offensive. Phil Robertson is offended a god-hating culture merely by using his very prominent platform to give them a dose, in a most practical and down-to-earth manner possible, of biblical Christianity. My hat is off to you Mr. Robertson. Stay strong and God speed! 

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